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Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year Brings Changes at Dakota Voice

Tomorrow sometime Dakota Voice will have a new look.

Dr. Theo has been the inspiration for much of this change and has provided key advice at many stages of development.

I'm moving DV completely off the Blogger platform and onto a content management system. There are a few drawbacks to this system, but the gains more than make it worth the switch.

For one thing, the new system will make more efficient use of space, especially "above the fold" space.

I will also be able to place featured articles near the top of the page and even rotate two or three if desired. The old Blogger platform is like a roll of toilet paper; what you pull off the roll just keeps getting farther and farther down. What that means is that if you do an important post, then do two or three quick hits, the important one loses visibility as it streams down the page. The new "featured article" function will allow me to keep a brief excerpt and link to such an important piece near the top, for a couple of days if warranted.

I can also put a short list of the 5 latest posts w/link near the top, and can do the same with the top x number of posts according to what's hit the most.

The new format will also allow me to use a "Read more" function so that on the front page the reader sees the first 2-3 paragraphs of an article and can click "read more" to see the rest. That will allow room for more posts on the front page, as will the 2-column format.

I'll also be using a third-party comments system called Disqus which allows for better moderation control, including blocking a troublesome commenter by username, email or IP address.

There will be an opportunity to become a registered user with Dakota Voice. There is no requirement to do so, but in the future registered users will have a few perks and access to some material that average readers will not.

We'll also be able to run ads and ad rotators more efficiently than ever. This isn't something I've placed a high priority on before, but now that it will be so easy, I plan to seek more advertisers in the coming months.

There are still some bugs to work out, including a few that can't be resolved until the DNS is switched tomorrow. Also, there isn't a real seamless system that I've been able to find for archiving posts from Blogger, so posts going back the last three years are going to take some work to get over there to the new location. I have a plan in progress that should work, but it's going to take a lot of manual intervention to get it done.

So please be patient with the transition. I think we're all going to like the new setup much better once we get used to it.


4 comments:

Haggs said...

I hope you'll let an occassionally hot-headed liberal become a member. Y'know, to keep the discussions lively. :)

Bob Ellis said...

Yes indeed, Haggs. No restrictions on registration, and most content will be available even if one isn't registered. Preaching to the choir can be fun, but by itself can get old fast.

PP said...

Bob -

If you're going to wordpress, it will import everything, including comments.

-PP

Bob Ellis said...

Thanks, but I'm using Joomla. Wordpress just didn't do the things I wanted to do, that I could tell.

Still haven't figured out what went wrong yesterday. Looks like I'll have to rebuild it mostly from scratch; at least I had template and db backed up.

 
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